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#2836 - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nondual Highlights

One: Essential Writings on Nonduality:    



In this issue is a review of Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Volume 2. The review is followed by an excerpt. The book will be available later in June, so you may order it now if you are interested.


Lots of descriptions of nonduality. The authors hit nonduality from all angles and show how nonduality is inherently fused to psychotherapy. Buddhist teachings are mostly the backdrop for this work. Therapists will benefit from the practical side of this book. So will anyone benefit, as the pursuit of nonduality, if it is anything beyond strictly academic, quickly meets up with one's psychological condition.








Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Volume 2.


Edited by John. J. Prendergast and G. Kenneth Bradford Associate link: 


Review by Jerry Katz


Co-editor John Prendergast says, “This volume will further develop many of the central themes that were interwoven within the essays in The Sacred Mirror: open listening, essential emptiness, spiritual awakening, embodiment and, of course, the impact of nondual wisdom upon psychotherapy.”


What I like about this book is that each author’s personality and approach is different and nothing is held back. You get the sense that each contributor is giving 110%. Thus this book is very alive.


This is a great introduction to nonduality. You’ll read many descriptions of  nonduality and discussions of its significance for psychotherapy. “If, as I propose, nondual consciousness is the essence and ground of personal subjective experience, then opening to this dimension can be understood as the direction of human maturity,” writes Judith Blackstone, revealing the book’s point of view.


It’s funny what you remember after reading a book, isn’t it? Kaisa Puhakka tells a story from childhood about a man named Heinonen and his utterance of "original speech." Here’s a sense of its atmosphere: “We sat quietly by the door as Heinonen puffed on his pipe. A grandfather clock against the back wall ticked away time that had slowed to a near halt. Everything was quiet like a still lake at sunset.” I remember Heinonen.


The authors consider the paradox of nonduality: that you can talk as if you know the nondual and there is no one to know it. What does that leave? Puhakka, one of my favorite writers in the book, says, “...that paradox is an antidote to seriousness, and so a gateway to openness and humility.”


The book is overflowing with enthusiastic, pioneering, sparkling nonduality talkers. Lots of different voices and angles here. Whether you are coming to this book as a therapist or a nondualist, you will learn, you will enjoy.


The teaching of nonduality is solidly presented in the fields of religious studies, philosophy, poetry, martial arts, cinema. With this new book, the same could now be said for psychotherapy.






Excerpt from



Kaisa Puhakka  


Nonduality is an idea we can think and talk about. More
immediately, it is a state into which we disappear or a state
from which we appear. But even to call it a “state” is to
grasp at something static and solid in a situation that is
essentially fluid and ungraspable. A better way to think and
talk about nonduality may be simply as “appearing” or
“disappearing.” Better yet, of course, is to not think or talk
at all, for all such activity sets up a duality between the
talker and that which is being talked about.  

When one freely gives oneself to the activity of appearing and
disappearing, there is no self and no concept of nonduality
but just an effortless flow that does not grasp at any
identity or concept and is imbued with a natural sense of
wellbeing. Moments of such flow occur in psychotherapy
spontaneously and far more frequently, I suspect, than is
generally recognized. They are easily missed because they tend
to be subtle and fleeting. Moreover, therapists and clients
alike often actively and mostly unconsciously flee from these
moments and the impending loss of self that comes with them.  

Those who have tasted the natural wellbeing associated with a
momentary disappearance of the self may try to recapture it,
and if they are therapists, perhaps set up conditions that
could bring it about for their clients as well. Such efforts,
however, proceed from the standpoint of a self as a distinct
and enduring identity. From that standpoint, the disappearance
of the self—nonduality--is something to be attained by some
sort of technique or spiritual practice. But paradoxically,
any attempt to make itself disappear only affirms the self’s
existence. Many spiritual practitioners have found themselves
dead-ended in this paradox. What happens to them at this
dead-end? They may quit their spiritual pursuit right then and
there, perhaps with a sense of defeat and despair, or with a
sense of relief and liberation. Or they may doggedly continue
in their pursuit. All of these may happen to the same person
at different times. It depends on where the person is “coming
from” at the time.  

One place the person may be coming from is the viewpoint of
the self who experiences nonduality as something distinct from
itself even while perhaps intellectually knowing better, and
who then seeks to capture or recapture it. Another is the
viewpoint—not really a viewpoint at all but perhaps more akin
to a boundless “viewspace”--of the boundless and ungraspable
flow of reality into which the self naturally and
spontaneously disappears and from which it naturally and
spontaneously appears. Understanding or being this state is
the same as seeing it. In contrast to the limited viewpoint of
a self, a “viewspace” that excludes nothing sees that there is
movement into and out of it—a “pendulation,” as Lumiere
characterizes it. At this fundamental a level the movement
is spontaneous and natural and so needs no explanation. On the
other hand, an enduring sense of identity is not natural but
an artifact, and so cries for understanding: how does it come
about? In this chapter, I invite the reader to inquire with me
into the activity that brings about and maintains the sense of
identity of a separate self.  

Let us call the activity that creates and maintains the sense
of self “fixating,” and the resultant self the “fixated self.”
From the standpoint of the fixated self, nonduality is fixated
as well, as a state to be grasped or a concept to be
understood—an object for the subject that is the fixated self.
But tragically, the object can never be attained by the
subject that seeks it. The quest for nonduality or “nondual
experience” exposes the root of alienation, of
loneliness, of self-doubt, and of the myriad forms of human
suffering in ways that no other quest does.  

A self that is not fixated naturally disappears and appears,
or “goes into” and “comes from” states of nonduality. In the
following pages, we will as well explore this natural
activity, its manifestation in speech and behavior, how it
occurs in the psychotherapeutic encounter, and the qualities
of presence and connection associated with it. Finally, we
will address the issue of talking about nonduality.
Therapists, as much if not more than other people, like to
talk and think. And when nonduality or nondual wisdom becomes
a concern to us, we can’t help but talk about it. Most of the
ways we talk and think about nonduality tend to fixate it by
turning it into a conceptual object or idea, but there are
also ways of talking and thinking about it that tend to
unravel the fixation and deliver us from a state of separation
to a nondual “coming” and “going.”

Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Volume 2.


Edited by John. J. Prendergast and G. Kenneth Bradford Associate link: 

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